Interest in book spikes after removal from high school

By Zac Taylor Cody Enterprise Via Wyoming News Exchange

CODY — The Park County Library District is working to acquire at least two more copies so each library has one.
The publisher has had to order a reprint of the book.
And at least two Cody grads have said they have purchased copies to give away to students who want to read it.
The Cody School Board’s decision to remove “A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone from the high school library has turned what had been a lightly-read book into a more well-known text around town.
“It’s actually increased the author’s sales,” Park County Library director Frances Clymer said. “I don’t think that was the desired effect.”
Amanda Miner, the parent of a ninth-grader at the high school, first brought the book to the school and district’s attention to say it wasn’t appropriate for high school students, especially ninth graders.
It was then referred to the KEC committee, tasked with determining reading materials, which voted 7-2 to recommend keeping the book on the shelf. The committee also recommended the district change its policy on library book decisions.
Trustees in turn questioned whether the committee was even the appropriate way to determine the book’s status, and the vote to remove it also included changing the process by which book complaints are dealt with, using the chain of command all the way up to the superintendent and then the school board.
Superintendent Ray Schulte said the change should help resolve more issues earlier in the process without going quickly to the trustees, as the KEC policy is written.
The trustees also implemented a system whereby parents receive weekly emails about what book their students are checking out from the library unless the parents choose to opt out.
The vote was 5-1 in favor of removing the book and changing the policy, with Tom Keegan voting against, although he said he was in favor of the policy changes. He said banning any book was a “slippery slope,” a point backed by Weber and Miner later when they mentioned other book complaints likely on the way.
The Amazon synopsis of the book in question reads: “Josie, Nicolette and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy – a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and personal doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what ultimately to keep for herself.”
“I don’t think KEC members read the same book I read,” trustee Scott Weber said. “The book’s junk. It’s erotica, pornographic.”
The book at the Meeteetse Library, the only current copy in the Park County Library system, is shelved in the Young Adult section.
Weber, an author himself, said in one of the discussions that some books were suitable for a public library but not a school library. Schulte had a similar comment after the fact.
“Some people have this idea that any book should be allowed to stay in a public school library,” Schulte said. “I think that’s probably true for 99 percent, or maybe even 99.9 percent of the books, but certainly there are some things published that aren’t appropriate for children.
“Certainly there must be at least a book or two that have been published on the face of the planet that aren’t appropriate for schoolchildren. There are materials out there which are not appropriate.”
While many community members agreed the book was not appropriate for a school library, others were opposed. Comments from the latter group fit generally into two camps: Those opposed in general to removing a book from the school library, and those opposed to “A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl” in particular being removed.
After the decision, the author weighed in on her public Facebook page.
“This is not just a book banning. The entire point of this book is to empower girls to be in charge of their own bodies and sex lives and relationships,” she wrote. “This committee overturned a prior challenge and took the book off the shelves after it was decided to keep it. And warned that there would be others.”
She also posted a letter Cody High School graduate Dominae Cole sent to the trustees following the decision.
Cole said she is purchasing books to donate to anyone interested in reading it.
“I already have six books in circulation and will be receiving my newest shipment in a few days,” she wrote in the letter.
Another grad, Jeff Victor, posted a message saying he also had purchased copies to give to a students who could then pass them out.
Clymer, who when she checked with the publisher Tuesday saw there were no more books currently available due to demand, said the decision on whether a student should read a book should be up to parents, not schools. She also defended the book itself.
“A lot of respectable journals have said it was worth having (in the library),” she said, including Kirkus Review, School Library Journal, VOYA and others.
Many other library systems in the state own copies of the book including Laramie County, Albany, Campbell and Sheridan.
Clymer said the book portrays an accurate depiction of what high school is like.
“Living in Cody, Wyoming, we’re in a little bit of a cocoon and our young people aren’t always exposed to everything,” she said. “But the kind of behavior discussed in the book is reality in high schools. It’s a lesson in what can happen if you don’t be careful.”
It’s been brought up by school boards for potential removal before, including recently in North Carolina where the Currituck County Schools in 2013 declined to remove it but four years later agreed to issue a warning to parents regarding books that could be harmful for some ages.
Despite the mostly favorable reviews in literary journals, it wasn’t a popular library book in Park County, at least prior to the recent issue.
Trustee Stefanie Bell pointed to its very low record of being checked out at the high school, twice since 2009, as a possible reason to remove it.
The Meeteetse Library copy has only been checked out nine times since being purchased in 2006, less than once per year.
Clymer is expecting that to change, hence her work ordering more copies.
That lone copy at the Meeteetse Library – it’s currently checked out.


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